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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Drive Angry


Drive Angry
2011
Action
Rated: R
Running Time: 104 minutes
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard,
Directed By: Patrick Lussier.
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Outline
A man escapes from hell to save his granddaughter from satanic cultists.


Review
So I remember seeing the commercials for this film and not really paying much attention to them. It was Nicolas Cage driving around in a car with a hot girl in the passenger seat. It seemed too much work to focus on. I recently got a copy to watch, and I read the synopsis on the back and then had to reread it as I thought I must have read it wrong. To my utter horror what I read the first time was correct so here we go. Drive Angry is the story of Milton. He escapes hell to seek revenge on the men who killed his daughter, and to try and save his granddaughter in the process.

Holy crap, Nicolas Cage is a zombie! Well not really, but he is walking the earth again in this as an undead man. You are going to hate me for this next statement and trust me I hate myself a little for saying it. This movie wasn’t that bad. Of course if you are going to break it down into its core parts and analyze the story it is pretty rancid. If you are able to appreciate a film for its no brain action though, then there is a lot to like about this film. After an opening scene where Milton literally drives a car out of hell and back to earth. I was thinking to myself who comes up with this crap. As the film carries on though it is clear that only one thing matters and that is a super high body count. Milton and his shot gun blows off heads, hands, legs, and any other appendage you care to think of in search of his granddaughter. The film has little else to offer except dead bodies piled up where ever Milton goes. Sure he meets a woman named Piper and she accompanies him on this ludicrous mission. Sure the people who have kidnapped his granddaughter happen to be satanic cultists and need the baby for a demonic ritual. Sure Milton is being followed by an agent of Satan named the Accountant who is tasked to bring him back to hell. As you can see the story is nonsense, but the violence is very real and it happens very often, so most action lovers will be sated.

It is a Nicolas Cage movie must I really talk about the acting? Anyways Milton is played by Nicolas Cage, and if I am going to be unbiased he pulls it off. It is not a challenging role though. All he has to do is not smile as he drives across country killing anyone in his way. He is easy to follow in this film even if his hair is disturbingly reminiscent of the Crypt Keepers. His sidekick Piper is played by Amber Heard. She is basically eye candy in this and offers little to the film. She swears incessantly, fights obnoxiously, and wears tight clothes. Not much to the role or the performance. Last role to mention is the one of the Accountant played by William Fichtner. He is great in this film as a socially awkward agent of Satan. He relentlessly tracks Milton in this and tells people when he is going to see them next. My only complaint was he wasn’t in the film enough.

As the film continues on it offers lots of car chases and violence as Milton and Piper kill their way across America. Where the movie fails is in its special effects. There is so much going on that they are not as crisp as one would like. Scenes of heads exploding look fake, and poorly designed fire and explosions are cringe worthy. Not to mention an end scene that makes the special effects from the Raiders of the Lost Ark finale seem like the Matrix. So in conclusion if you need a decent story this movie is awful. If you are able to shut your brain down for an hour and a half then you may enjoy Milton killing people in churches, hotels, highways, and everywhere else.

Director Patrick Lussier is a brave man shooting this movie. He had nothing to lose as his resume is pretty weak (Dracula 2000, My Bloody Valentine). What I liked is he knew the story was of such low quality that he made up with it in action sequences. The special effects were weak, but I still liked the feel of this film. Milton was a bad ass and a killing machine and nothing more. So this film got panned and I can understand why but I enjoyed this finished product.

I cannot recommend this film but if the effects were better it might have worked.

T Factor + If you like B grade action films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like Nicolas Cage as an actor then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Expendables, Death Race

Thank You


If a Blog is written and there is no one around to read it, is it a Blog? Maybe, but truth be told it is not much of one. If you were to tell me 11 months ago that my blog would have 6000 + views, I would have said “yeah right, that is akin to Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin dating for 8 years, it will never happen.” Yet here we are today with both scenarios coming true. I would just like to take the time and thank YOU the reader, for showing interest in my reviews. I hope you have found some movies to watch through my writings, and at the very least some entertainment. I don’t know all of you, and a lot of you quietly read my blog without commenting which is totally fair. In the coming year, I hope some of you will speak up and make requests, comments, or even just to tell me about movies that you have loved. I would love to hear your thoughts on movies also, as I am a fanatic. Canada, U.S.A, United Kingdom, Russia, and Germany are my top readers, so a special shout out goes to all of you guys as well. Anyways, I hope you are all doing well in your respective lives, and I am looking forward to hearing from you some time soon I hope.

Without you my words are hollow.
Tyler (TBizzy) 

The Raven


The Raven
2012
Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 110 minutes
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Alice Eve
Directed By: James McTeigue
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Outline
Edgar Allen Poe and a Police officer team up to try and solve a rash of murders.


Review
I have never wanted to own an old fashioned pair of gloves until directly after finishing this movie. I wanted to hold my right hand in the air in front of me and slowly remove it by the finger tips. I would then proceed to slap the person who recommended this film across the face with it. It was not the recommendation itself that upset me, but the terrible comparison of this film to the Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr.. Movie critiquing is not an easy business, but this is no Sherlock Holmes. The Raven is the story of the writer Edgar Allen Poe. A madman is committing horrific murders across the city using Poe’s stories as a template. Poe joins forces with a Baltimore policeman (Fields) to try and stop these atrocities from happening.

19th century Baltimore sets the stage for a madman’s killings. The dark and dreary city is reminiscent of London, and the killings while impossibly sophisticated reek of Jack the Ripper. We are introduced to the alcoholic Poe quite early on and quickly you will dislike him. His pompous demeanor and arrogant attitude is compounded by the fact that he is so disagreeable to look at. Wanting Poe to succeed at anything will be far from the front of your mind. After a couple of horrific murders that are oddly staged. Poe is called in to consult with the police. He quickly realizes that the killer is using his literary work as a murderous template. Now I am embarrassed to admit it but besides the Raven I am unfamiliar with Poe’s writings. It is possible you may like this movie more if you have read Poe’s writings prior, but I highly doubt it as it seems incidental to the story. Truth be told I am sick of these formulaic types of movies involving cops/serial killers. The killer lays out elaborate clues and taunts the police that are chasing him. In this case Poe is one who has to unravel these inane clues before another body is found. Poe and detective Fields follow the killer all around the city. They follow him through sewers and churches, through parties and forests, and always they are one step behind. You will stare at the screen mildly bored as Poe stresses and laments on why this is happening to him. This film has a very straight to DVD quality to it and I am surprised it even made it to the big screen.

I am not sure why Nicolas Cage gets so much flack for his terrible films and yet John Cusack remains critique free. Is it because he was in movies that people loved when they were teens? I am not sure, but his resume for the last 10 years has been equally as bad as Cage’s.  John Cusack plays Poe in this film and his performance seems over the top in some places and disinterested in others. He is hard to look at with his heavily Botoxed face and way too much makeup. He wants to come off as an intellectual but somehow with his snide comments, and downright freakish looks his character is not easy to root for. His supporting cast of Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, and Alice Eve had no chance of pulling this film up from its mediocre tale.

The film has the odd moment of blood but the R rating seems almost a waste. The first couple of killings set the stage for a slasher type movie but then inexplicably it turns into a slow drawn out mystery type of film. The film is not scary, the story is yawn inducing, the characters are thin and vapid, and the thrill of the chase is non-existent. Could Edgar Allen Poe’s life really have been this mundane? Anyways as the chase for the killer continues the viewer is taken for a helter skelter ride around the city that involves little enjoyment. When the killer is finally revealed and the story ends, all I could think of was Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law themselves couldn’t have saved this film.

Director James McTeigue’s career is on a sharp decline (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin). This film was terribly put together and paced. It is a horror in one instance and then a thriller the next. It is a drama the next instance and then a mystery the next. The characters are shallow and the story is worse. I liked the setting but that was all that kept my attention as Poe solved this ridiculous case. Truly this was a bizarre film with no clear direction.

I cannot recommend this film as the scariest thing in it was John Cusack’s wrinkle free face.

T Factor + If you like John Cusack as an actor then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like gore than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: From Hell, The Watcher.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Chronicle


Chronicle
Action (Sci-Fi)
2012
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 84 minutes
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
Directed By: Josh Trank
Rating: 6 out of 10
Outline
Three teens stumble upon an unknown object that gives them superpowers.


Review
Most people have wondered what it would be like to be a superhero (well mostly nerds that is.) This film does a decent job of going through the motions of what someone would do if suddenly they were blessed with unnatural abilities. Chronicle is the story of three high school students. While exploring an underground cave they stumble upon an object that gives them superpowers. With their new found power come dark thoughts and that may tear the three friends apart.

The film is shot in the found footage style so I won’t get into the whole why would they be filming everything. It starts off with the three kids attending high school. What I liked about this film is the three friends are all at different levels of social status. Andrew is a loner, a geek, creepy, whatever you want to call it. He has a rough home life with an abusive dad and a sick mom. His cousin Matt is more popular, but also try hard. He might be a little cooler if he didn’t sing Jessie J songs in this, just saying. Steve is the most popular guy at school; he is charming, charismatic, and likable. Although they would never become friends in real life. The superpower secret has created a unique bond between them, and it gives a cool perspective for the film. As their powers grow their philosophies on how to use them take shape. Do they keep the power a secret? Do they use them for good or evil? All good questions and their lives play a huge role in determining their answers. The film’s progression is actually quite believable as they discover and improve their powers. Things like playing practical jokes on people by levitating toys, throwing baseballs at each other, and causing the wind to raise a girls skirt are all things normal teens would start out doing. The film although interesting spends the entire movie making the viewer understand that their powers are growing. So while it is cool that they can levitate objects, create barriers, and even fly, it does this for the ENTIRE film. This film desperately needed a bank robbery, a shootout, or a huge fire to test these kids but nothing was forth coming. This story took a predictable superhero course where the ending would culminate into one huge fight.

The unknown cast doesn’t do a great job but does enough not to ruin the film. The loner Andrew played by Dane DeHaan does a good job in his role. He is picked on at school, beaten at home, and is losing his mother to a sickness. His new found powers give him a measure of strength from a position of weakness, and it is cool to see his evolution from a so called nobody to something more. His chaotic emotions are used perfectly in this and drive the story down its darker road. You will probably hate his voice though, and I got an Edward Furlong vibe from him but he gives a solid performance. His cousin Matt played by Alex Russell was neither good nor bad he was just merely there. I probably wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up in a few weeks. He wasn’t the worst though so I won’t criticize. Last is Steve played by Michael B. Jordan (I am assuming no relation). He works as the popular kid but his role could have been played by any actor out there. When it is just two of them on screen it is easier to handle then when all three of them get together. As their powers increase so does their douchiness level. They laugh like hyenas as they cause general mischief all over the city. They could have toned down their personalities a little bit as they were trying to hide their secret.

The film has such a positive vibe and then quickly spins out of control so that you won’t know what hit you. With great power comes great responsibility but also great popularity. So the three friends are thrust to the top of their social groups and each has their own way of dealing with it. A lot of people thrive in the limelight but most fracture in it and that is why I ultimately liked this film. Although they may have superpowers they are still kids with the same everyday popularity struggles and self worth issues. It is also cool to think what you would do with the same powers. (It disturbs me that robbing a bank is all I can come up with.)The film has a short run time so it never drags or gets caught up in anything unnecessary. When the end comes it is a perfect finale on a movie that needed more action scenes like it. So overall I liked the film I just felt it spent too much time building the story and not enough scenes of them really using their powers. I get that they can levitate shit now go out and do something crazy with it.

Director Josh Trank's debut film was a success if not amazing. He knows his audience and gets the most out of the film with a PG-13 rating. The budget (est. 12 mill) was clearly a limiting factor as the CGI was weak in some instances. (i.e. fake looking baseball, stupid levitating potato chips). It seems they saved most of their budget for the ending which I was okay with as it looked great and really gave closure to film that desperately needed it. Tranks could have broken up the story more with additional scenes of action and less scenes of discovering their abilities. The camera work was decent for found footage and he used a unique way too shoot this movie. Overall he did a decent job.

I give this movie a recommendation but it is a lot of story to action ratio so be warned.

T Factor + If you like found footage films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like superhero movies then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Kick-Ass, Daredevil

King Arthur


King Arthur
Action (Drama)
2004
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 126 minutes
Starring: Clive Owen, Hugh Dancy, Ioan Gruffudd, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Ray Winstone, Ray Stevenson, Keira Knightley, Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgard
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Outline
This is a tale of the origins of King Arthur and his knights of the round table.


Review
When one thinks of the legendary King Arthur and his knights, one conjures up the image of impossibly bright armor and heroic deeds. One thinks of rescuing maidens and of fancy castles. One thinks of Excalibur, and depending on your age coconuts being smashed together. In this movie it is almost the exact opposite of what you would expect and that is why this film worked for me. King Arthur is the story of the legendary king and his knights of the round table. They are tasked to save a young Roman boy from northern Britain to earn their freedom.

I have seen and read many takes on the King Arthur story so I was expecting another unoriginal version. What unfolded was surprisingly fresh if not entirely great. The film starts off and we are introduced to the knights as children as they are whisked off to train and to become the protectors of Britain. They are servants of Rome even if they are revered and honored. Fast forward many years and the knights only have a few days left in their servitude. They are tasked with one final task and their most important mission to date. They must travel to the north and save an important Roman child as it is the will of the Pope. The problem is the north is filled with wild men intent on killing anyone affiliated with Rome. That coupled with a huge invading Saxon army and you know King Arthur and his knights have little hope of success. The film has plenty of action and it ranges from great to poor in its execution. At times it is up close and realistic as body parts gets chopped off or an arc of blood shoots across the screen. At other times it glaringly bad with shaky camera work and poor editing. This flip flopping of the bloodshed quality shows what a poor decision it was to make this film PG-13. There is also something about the hue or tint of the scenery in this film that makes it look off. The trees and landscapes seem almost cartoonish in coloring making the film lose its epic vibe. Without the realism going for it this film was never going to be mentioned with the likes of Braveheart and Gladiator.

The cast and characters is what makes this film work. The knights are flawed men with normal vices (except Arthur.) They drink, they womanize, and they gamble. They don’t seem like the type of men to rescue damsels in distress. But what they have above all else is trust and honor amongst themselves. It is hard to capture noble camaraderie in a bunch of guys who look like mercenaries for hire but that is what happens in this film. King Arthur is played by Clive Owen and while he struggles to deliver quality speeches and dialogue he somehow makes up for it with his charisma. The rest of the cast is made up of familiar names such as Ioan Gruffudd, Ray Winstone, Mads Mikkelsen, and others. They give the knights such varied personalities that there is going to be one you will like. Will you want to follow the pragmatic knight Lancelot? Or follow the sword master knight Tristan? Maybe the brute knight Bors? Or you may enjoy them all it is up to you. I liked all 7 knights in this both individually and together thus making up for the strange camerawork.

As the film carries on and you get to know the group of knights better the film is easier and easier to watch and get into. This ragtag group of knights is in a hostile environment and horribly outnumbered. They must fight their way through dark and misty forests and across frozen and windswept lakes. The invading Saxons are menacing to behold and a perfect enemy for the knights to carve to pieces. Also to be noted is the films other unorthodox characters. Merlin is a wildling chieftain in this? Guinevere is a feral fighting woman? It seems strange but it works somehow. You will bleed with this group of knights as they cut, slash, shoot, and hack its way back to Hadrian’s Wall and you will be pulling for them to make it the whole time. The ending action sequence is solid if not remarkable and lets you enjoy some up close sword play as huge bonfires roar in the background. How far would you go to win your freedom? Watch this film to find out. So overall the characters, the camaraderie, story, and fight scenes are good, but the camerawork and editing leave a lot to be desired.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Tears of the Sun) puts down the guns and picks up some swords. He takes a unique script (Franzoni) and is able to deliver a decent Arthurian tale. His choice of camera work is really what holds this film back from being great though. The story is decent and action packed as we follow the knights across Britain. They fight from horseback and on foot and terrorize the enemies with brutal precision. He keeps you interested through the knight’s noble cause and wins you over by making them less than perfect men. This could have been a great finished product if not for its PG-13 rating.

I give this movie a recommendation especially anyone looking for a different take on the story of King Arthur.

T Factor + If you like tales of the medieval then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like epic styled films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator.      

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Roommate


The Roommate
Drama (Horror, Thriller)
2011
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Billy Zane
Directed By: Christian Christiansen
Rating: 3 out of 10
Outline
A college student’s roommate becomes obsessed with her every move.


Review
No offense to Bridget Fonda or Jennifer Jason Leigh but this movie is basically just a remake of the film Single White Female with better looking people. You might think I am shallow saying that but I try and speak my mind (plus I used to have a crush on Bridget back in the day). Does the world really need Single White Female 2? The answer is a huge no as it barely needed the first version. The Roommate is the story of college student Sara. She just got a new roommate named Rebecca who seems a little off and a lot obsessive.

I get that the world needs thrillers that appeal to teens but this film will not be appreciated by either young or old. As I said above this film is basically Single White Female but without the R rating to help it. Single White Female wasn’t great so this film had no chance. There are many problems with this film but timelines and the characters are what make it glaringly bad. The movie starts and we are introduced to Sara as she sets up her dorm room. She instantly gets whisked away to a club for some binge drinking and some dancing with a couple of friends from her floor. While at the club she meets a new beau in Stephen and they instantly hit it off. The next day Sara is introduced to Rebecca as they become dorm mates and instantly they become BFF’s. That is until Rebecca starts to obsess over everything Sara does and says. YES THE FILM HAPPENS THAT FAST. In a span of five to ten minutes Sara gets close friends on her dorm room floor, meets her new boyfriend, and gets introduced to her new roommate and bonds with her like family. It is like they filled a shotgun with plot topics and then shot you directly in the face with it. While Sara signs up for classes, deals with a persistent ex boyfriend, and settles into a routine, nothing remotely scary or thrilling happens. The film just drags its heels waiting for anyone to save it from its mundane existence.

The characters are superficial and the acting is virtually absent. Sara is played by the strikingly attractive Leighton Meester. She is clearly in this for her looks and little else. She plays this oblivious and impossibly patient character that likes fashion and drinking. I get that the film needs some buildup but anyone with a 60 IQ would know something is wrong with Rebecca from virtually the start. A scene where Rebecca scolds Sara for not calling would have most people running for the hills. Yet Sara finds nothing wrong with her clearly psychotic roommate. To be fair, Meester was given terrible lines of dialogue and had no chance to develop her character but she still gives a stale performance. Sara’s roommate Rebecca is played by Meester’s doppelganger, actress Minka Kelly. Kelly actually gives a convincing performance as Rebecca. She seems off her rocker and that builds as the movie progresses. Her obsessive nature and emotional facial expressions were enough to convey the craziness factor. If she wasn’t hamstrung by the film’s PG-13 rating and lack of originality in her violent outbursts then she could have saved the movie. The rest of the supporting cast is played by Cam Gigandet, Aly Michalka, Danneel Ackles, and they provide mostly looks instead of substance.

So for the greater part of this movie the story is just dull. Sara goes about her daily life at the university with a naïve sense of unreality. Her friends constantly warn her about Rebecca and her crazy ways but she doesn’t buy it. Rebecca is always around, has crazy and intense mood swings, goes through Sara’s things, and yet Sara never questions her roommate. When finally things don’t start adding up in Sara’s mind, the viewer will already hate this movie beyond saving. The ending tries to capture some of the violence that the rest of the film so desperately needed but it is too little too late and not to mention stupid. So in conclusion this film is basically an hour and a half of stargazing. It is nothing more than good looking people wearing stylish clothes and drinking and having sex.

Director Christian Christiansen’s (I wonder if he is religious) foray into the thriller world is an unmitigated disaster. His pacing is so rapid that it is hard to appreciate any character on screen. Having the lead character being impossibly dimwitted is hard to swallow also. She has no sense of self perseverance that she is hard to connect with. He seems more concerned with having the cast looking good then scaring the audience. This film offers nothing new on a story that was already done 20 years ago. His style is amateurish and disappointing.

I cannot recommend this film as it is easy on the eyes but not easy on common sense.

T Factor + If you like your horror/thrillers to have more implied scares then in your face ones then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you have seen Single White Female before then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Stepfather, Domestic Disturbance.  

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sanctum


Sanctum
Drama
2011
Rated: R
Running Time: 108 minutes
Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson
Directed By: Alister Grierson
Rating: 3 out of 10
Outline
A group of cave explorers is trapped in an unexplored cave system; they must find a way out before their supplies are exhausted.


Review
I was not sure what to expect when I popped in Sanctum for a perusal. I thought I read somewhere that I would be mesmerized by the camera work and cinematography. I either misread the article or confused it with Werner Herzog’s cave movie because this movie looked like a low budget television show. The quality of the camera work is so bad that I never could appreciate the movie properly. Now that I write this I notice it was shot in 3-D and that is maybe where this film went wrong as I did not watch it in that dimension. Sanctum is the story of a group of cave explorers mapping out a giant cave system. Miles below the earth the crew gets trapped and must find a new way out to the surface through unexplored tunnels and freezing water.

Camera work aside the film is just boring. Without goblins or albino cave monsters chasing the explorers around the film is just a lot of rock and a lot of water. Maybe spelunkers will find this movie fascinating but I just didn’t see the appeal. We are introduced to the crew of cave explorers and right off the bat I knew the film was destined for failure. The explorers are made up of a bunch of characters that most viewers will not care about but more importantly they will intensely dislike. The constant bickering between them and their internal struggles seem super out of place when their lives are on the line. After the explorers get trapped in the cave system, they need to traverse miles and miles of uncharted tunnels and underwater lakes or face certain death. It could be just me but I was never once scared for them nor did I care if the group survived or not. I never got a rising sense of panic or claustrophobia that I was expecting from a cave movie. Sure the explorers faced tight spots, black water, and steep cliffs, but it all seemed a little bland for my taste.

The characters and actors are a glaring problem in this film as I mentioned above. The lead explorer is Frank McGuire played by Richard Roxburgh and he is the only redeeming quality in the acting department. His gruff and practical manner is a very believable portrayal when lives are on the line. I think you are supposed to hate his unemotional performance and yet he was the only person I cared about if they lived or not. He is the unquestioned leader and survivalist and I liked what he brought to this film. Frank’s son Josh played by Rhys Wakefield is an emotional mess of a character. He never seems comfortable on screen and brings up stupid things like Frank not being a good father when they could die at any moment. Every cool thing Frank did was erased by his lame son. The financier of this huge cave exploration was Carl played by Ioan Gruffudd. Gruffudd overacts for most of the film and his character seems to get more inconsistent as the movie rolls along. The rest of the explorers are made up of people you will forget the second they are off camera. The group constantly is questioning Frank’s decisions even though he is one of the best cave explorers in the world. The group fights, cries, bickers, and squabbles, and all I could think about was Frank should just have taken off on his own, and this would have been a much easier watch.

As the movie continues you will see a lot of rock and more water, and then more rock and more water, and then more rock and more water. I think you understand what to expect. The group struggles to survive and not all of them will make it. It isn’t hard to deduce who is going to die in this film judging by the character’s personalities. The underwater shots have some moments of being good and some of the death scenes are brutally effective. The group faces some tough choices and it does get you thinking about how you would react when trapped in penetrating darkness. But what little positives there were could not overcome the huge negatives. As the end finally arrives I was shocked I was still awake. The film has yawning caverns but it also has a yawn inducing story of survival.

Director Alister Grierson does nothing to make this film work. These explorers are in one of the most fear inducing places in the world and yet I never once felt scared for them. The camerawork is appalling and the characters even more so. Constant life on the line situations should inspire dread and it just never happens. The film is hastily slapped together and the never changing scenery only adds to the slow pacing. Not sure how I would have fixed this film as there are too many problems to have a decent solution. Or maybe cave movies are just not fun without things lurking in the shadows.

I cannot recommend this film as empty caves are as boring as they sound.

T Factor + If you like movies based on true stories then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like solid characters in your dramas then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this movie reel recommendations: The Descent, Dante’s Peak.

Pitch Perfect


Pitch Perfect
2012
Comedy (Musical)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson
Directed By: Jason Moore
Rating: 7 out of 10
Outline
A girl is pressured to join an all girl singing group in hopes of winning the campus regionals.


Review
My dirty little secret was going to come out sometime so here it is; I am a fan of musicals (if they are done well that is.) Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Grease, and Sweeney Todd are all favorites of mine. Not to mention the musical television episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scrubs would also make my list. I popped this Blu-ray in with some great hope (that is the fan in me speaking) but also with a lot of trepidation (that is the realist in me speaking) as I will discuss below. Pitch Perfect is the story of Beca. She is a freshman at university and gets pressured into joining an all girls a cappella group. The eclectic group of girls must find a way to beat the reigning champions at the final campus singing competition.
 
I am going to have to agree with Jeff Winger from Community and say I also hate the television show Glee and I don’t understand the appeal. So when I heard the premise of Pitch Perfect, I rolled my eyes and tried to quell the vomit rising in my throat. What happened next was a total shock to me as I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Glee is disgustingly cheesy and takes itself way too seriously. Its tacky approach to dealing with complex social issues and a United Colors of Benetton cast makes it uncomfortable to watch. Not to mention the stupid relationships and their accompanying problems. Pitch Perfect on the other hand is the total opposite of Glee (other than the singing) as it never took itself seriously and delivered with cleverly developed characters and not to mention a hilarious script. Without any of the serious topics and melodrama the viewer is just able to sit back and enjoy the movie unfold. Right from the beginning this movie entertained me. The start shows some a cappella groups performing their magic as two politically incorrect commentators weigh in with some funny banter. The music is a collection of old pop favorites and current chart toppers all with their own twists and originality. We are introduced to the alternative styled Beca a short while later and it is her we follow for most of the film. She is an aspiring music producer who gets pressured into joining the group after a very persistent and naked confrontation in the communal showers. From there the movie settles into a story of an unorthodox girl singing group trying to not only coexist but also trying to win a singing championship.

The movie is led by mostly women and it continues the positive trend of comedic performances from a female ensemble cast. There are a lot of characters in this film so I will talk about the stand outs for me. First was Beca played by Tina Fey’s daughter, Anna Kendrick. Her curt personality and alternative style was just what this film needed to drive it along. She is funny in a sarcastic way and it fit perfectly with the other group of women. Next that stood out for me was Rebel Wilson playing a character called Fat Amy. I find Wilson to be annoying in most things she does but she was great in this. Her delivery and crude style of humor never changes but I felt this was the perfect movie for her to let loose in. Truth be told there is no one out of place in this movie and there are many different characters to like. There are preppy good girls, a lesbian, a sex addict, a quiet crazy Asian girl, and many more to appreciate and laugh to. The girls are a group of misfits that you will just enjoy watching. Plus they have great voices so even if you don’t find this movie funny with its politically incorrect humor you should like the singing.

The pacing of the film is great as we follow Beca around campus and to various singing venues. The film never gets deeper than the music and the girls struggling to get along. Sure there is an angle of a budding romance between Beca and a guy on the rival team but it is so far in the background it is hardly worth mentioning. I am sure some people will say this film is ridiculous and will not like how it pokes fun at nerds but I thought it was great. The girls have awkward singing practices, awkward socials, awkward singing battles, and last but not least awkward conversations. The film travels the full spectrum of naked girls hanging out in the shower to a girl violently throwing up on stage. Will the girls win the singing regionals? I will let you discover that for yourself.

Director Jason Moore took a movie that could have bombed and made it fun and entertaining. The script is sort of Mean Girls meets Glee without being pretentious. The storyline of a girl in college is as thin as it gets and yet it feels right for this film. As the groups sing for the title the two announcers make sure you realize not to take this film seriously at all. He cast brilliantly with Kendrick leading, and Brittany Snow and Anna Camp helping out to make sure the film never gets out of control. It would have been easy to make this film rated R but the jokes were still in line with the tone of the film. The only thing Moore failed to do was cast Rockapella singing Carmen Sandiego. I already want to watch a sequel so good work Mr. Moore.

I give this movie a big recommendation for people looking for an easy watch and some good music.

T Factor + If you like musicals then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like musicals then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Mean Girls, Bridesmaids. 

Open Range


Open Range
Drama (Western)
2003
Rated: R
Running Time: 139 minutes
Starring: Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, Diego Luna, James Russo, Abraham Benrubi, Dean McDermott
Directed By: Kevin Costner
Rating: 7 out of 10
Outline
A couple of free graze cattle ranchers must leave the area or take on the local sheriff to protect their livelihood.


Review
One of my buddies who has also been blessed with the awesome name of Tyler moved to Boston recently. He may be the world’s biggest Kevin Costner fan so in his honor I thought I would do review on a Costner movie. To be honest I was also in the mood for a western so it was an easy choice. Open Range is the story of Boss Spearman and his partner Charley Waite. They are free graze cattle ranchers who are forced to take up arms against a corrupt local law man.

With wide sweeping shots of the beautiful country side and scenes of torrential rain Open Range sets up the viewer for 2 hours of a slow building rise. The film introduces us to Boss Spearman, Charley Waite, and their two cattle hands. The four of them travel the country side raising cattle for sale. Their quiet life consists of hard work and a little fun (like playing poker.) After one of the cattle hands gets in a scuffle in a nearby town, Boss and Charley are forced to ride in to find out what is happening. What transpires next is not to their liking. The local sheriff along with a rich businessman have joined forces to rid the area of all free grazers. Boss and Charlie have a dilemma on their hands. They can either tuck tail and run or stay and fight. This wouldn’t be much of a movie if they ran away like brave brave Sir Robin from the Holy Grail. The film may not be for everyone as admittedly it is very slow moving. I really enjoyed the dialogue between the characters though so I found I was always interested and never noticed the lulls. I liked the camaraderie between the 4 free grazers and the long unedited shots really impressed me also. There is something about underdog western stories that reaches out to me. Boss and Charley are horribly outnumbered and yet when it comes to their livelihood, they rather go down shooting then lose all that they know.

In westerns it usually comes down to the characters and the actors to determine if I like it or not. You can have a great story but without strong leads it doesn’t work. Boss is played by Robert Duvall and Charley by Kevin Costner. The two of them have been free graze cattle ranchers and partners for years and it shows. The easy banter, the tell it like it is comments, and the mutual trust is so apparent it is hard to believe these guys are not best friends off screen. Duvall plays the lead character to a tee. He has a noble charm about him and deals with things as an honorable man would. Costner plays his partner and leaves you questioning what is in his past that makes him so menacing. He seems ruff around the edges and his comments make you think he is a criminal running from the law. He has less then noble intentions as he wants to deal with things by shoot first and ask questions later. The constant struggle of how to do things between Boss and Charley leads to some great scenes. You believe in their friendship so much that you want them to succeed. Annette Bening plays a nurse in the town and adds a little romantic context to a film that is all about Alpha males doing Alpha male things. She is great in an understated role and provides breaks from the tension filled encounters. Michael Gambon plays the corrupt business man Denton Baxter. I felt he was underutilized and you really don’t hate him as much as you should. If not for Boss and Charley being so awesome this could have been a glaring issue.

So as the film progresses you know it is going to culminate into something huge. Boss and Charley walk around this small town as if they don't have a care in the world. They threaten people at the saloon and they threaten them in the street. They are not going to be pushed out of their livelihood by some local thugs. There are many conversations of barely contained gunfights between them and the local law. Trust me, there is something so awesome about two friends walking around a place like they own it when they are horribly outnumbered. I liked this movie for the characters, I liked it for the easy friendship between Boss and Charley, and I liked it for the scenery and the old town, but most of all I liked it for some of the best gunplay I have seen in a while. Truly the film hits all the spots it needed to and even the love story seemed genuine.

Director Kevin Costner rarely steps behind the scenes to shoot a movie but he did with this. Directing and starring cannot be easy but clearly he is a fan of the western genre. He takes this script (Paine, Storper) and delivers a solid film. He lets the characters make the movie with strong personalities and believable friendships. He let them act instead of chopping this movie to pieces with over editing. He just gets what a western is supposed to be about. It has a revenge style theme and the casting was spot on so you will always be interested. If you don’t like westerns it will still be worth it just for the gunfights. I am just going to say it so you can judge me...I wished Costner directed more and yes I realize he directed the Postman.

I give this movie a big recommendation and good luck to Tyler and Laura in Boston! I hope your time there is better than Roy McAvoy's approach shot on the 18th hole at the U.S. Open. I hate you just a little for making me reference Tin Cup.

T Factor + If you like westerns then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like faster paced films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Appaloosa, Unforgiven.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Silent House


 Silent House
Drama (Horror, Thriller)
2012
Rated: R
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen
Directed By: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Rating: 3 out of 10
Outline
A young woman is staying at an isolated house by a lake when an unknown intruder chases her around the place.


Review
I never like to rip on a movie that tries to be original but there is much not to like about Silent House. A film with silent in the title screams of amateurish execution and a poor ending. Silent House is the story of a girl named Sarah. She is staying at her family’s lakeside house and things seem to be going fine. That is until she hears some unexplained noises coming from the house and she quickly realizes that she is not alone.

The film introduces us to Sarah and to the house where her ordeal is about to take place. The house is under major renovations so the electricity is turned off and all the windows are boarded up and locked. It is a place where the viewer can easily visualize murder and torture even if it is a smaller locale. The film though is a tired example of a way too built up thriller. Sarah’s uncle seems weird and overly friendly as he leaves the house to find an electrician. One of Sarah’s childhood friends also stops by the house and instantly she becomes creepy and very intent on hugging. It is suppose to add to the suspense but it doesn’t work. The film doesn’t really get going until Sarah investigates some strange sounds coming from upstairs. What occurs next is a confusing tale of Sarah running from an unknown intruder all over the house. It has some moments but mostly this film is just boring. The original aspect of this film that I was talking about above, is it was shot using a real time filming technique. This movie has no cuts so it is one continuous shot for 86 minutes to try and provide a sense of realism. (They filmed the movie in 10 minute segments and then blended the cuts so you couldn’t see it.) The result of this camera technique is a weary nonstop motion of poorly shot scenes. As Sarah investigates the house and ultimately runs from the unknown intruder, the viewer is inundated with a constant stream of nauseous circling camera work. Couple that with a shaky camera when things get hectic and one wonders why they bothered with this style at all. The film ultimately comes off as a found footage horror even if they were going for something new.

Funny story is when I was first introduced to Sarah I instantly said to myself “easy Ashley Olsen mixed with Maggie Gyllenhaal.” Of course now that I am writing this review I found out it is actually the Olsen twin’s younger sister Elizabeth. I am unfamiliar with any of her prior work but I thought she did a decent job with this character. She conveys fear when she is in some tight spots and she is able to connect with the viewer making you want her to escape this murder house. The Sarah character itself is not very good though.  She never thinks to grab a weapon until half way through this movie; she picks terrible hiding places, and never really thinks things through with anything she does. All that and she wears a shirt that the camera always seems to shoot down. The shirt makes Jessica Biel’s shirt from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like a nun’s outfit. Overall Elizabeth does a good job even though her character traits are so weak.

Ultimately this movie should be about the frights and the blood and it is never forth coming. Sure there is the odd scene of a hand grabbing at Sarah or the intruder being just around the corner from her hiding spot, but the film never hits any level of scariness one would hope for. She runs around the house and clearly there is something more than the story is telling us. Sarah makes awful decisions, the intruder seems somewhat uninterested in her, and unexplained things occur all over the house without a reasonable explanation. When the end of the film comes and they try and explain why the intruder is stalking her and also why all the strange happenings are occurring, it will impress no one. Sarah runs, she jumps, she hides, and she screams but nothing she does makes this a viable horror.

Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau tried something new and it is unfortunate it didn’t work. The film seems to build and build but never really goes anywhere. Sarah is a young woman in a scary house and they failed at every opportunity to capture the viewer’s attention. The unique camera technique is terrible and frankly off putting. Their faith in Elizabeth Olsen was rewarded but that is about it. The story is fairly predictable when all is said and done and the payoff is not worth the wait. There is little to praise but I applaud their attempt at something new.

I cannot recommend this film as the circling camera will give you sea sickness.

T Factor + If you like found footage films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your horror/thriller bloody and gory than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Strangers, Gothika.   

The Rig


The Rig
Action (Horror)
2010
Rated: R
Running Time: 90 minutes
Starring: William Forsythe
Directed By: Peter Atencio
Rating: 0 out of 10
Outline
A crew on an off shore oil rig must try and survive against an unknown terror stalking the place.


Review
I was shocked to find out this film was from 2010. I thought I was watching a film from the mid 90’s if I am going to be honest with you. If I was to rate this strictly, then this is a really shitty movie. If I am going to be fair and rate it as the B grade monster flick that it is, then it is still really shitty. The Rig is the story of an off shore oil rig in the process of drilling for oil. In their search they inadvertently opened up a deep ocean cavern and release an unknown terror. They have been reduced to a skeleton crew as a huge impending storm is about to hit the area, and they must fight to stay alive until help can arrive.

Just like it seems strange that aliens travel light years to administer anal probes to humans, it seems just as strange that rare evolved sea monsters seem super determined to kill humans. I like sea monster movies and usually give them a lot of leeway but I just couldn’t with this one. The film starts out and the low budget production is distractingly noticeable. The camera quality is reminiscent of the stuff you see late night on the Space Network channel. Couple that with some of the lowest grade acting I have seen in a while and this film is laughable (not in the good way.) A quick introduction to the drill opening up the ocean cave and the film gets underway. We get introduced to the crew as they are battening down all the hatches for the impending storm. What transpires next is 80 minutes of the crew running around the rig being stalked by a creature that is reminiscent of the creature from the black lagoon (but with somehow crappier make up.) the films lower budget means you never get to see the creature in its entirety. Its claws kill at lightening quick speed and blood is all that is left in its wake. The film is never able to scare you or make you give a lick about the crew members dying on screen. Because there is no tension built up, you are painfully reminded of how bad this movie truly is.

The acting is not even worth my time to comment about but here we go. The characters seem to be reading right from a script as they interact with each other. It doesn’t matter if it casual conversation or scenes of heightened anxiety. They never seem to deviate from the grade school play quality of acting. The characters have zero chemistry and scenes of sex and nudity are carelessly thrown into the film. There is the unreasonably irate captain, the amateur comedian cook, the super aggressive female, and any other clichéd characters that you can think of. I could go on but why bother. The acting was sub standard but that wasn’t much of a surprise.

As I was watching this film I really found myself dissecting the creatures design and intentions because that was my only enjoyment. We are supposed to believe that a creature trapped in a deep ocean cave evolved into a bipedal amphibian, which can depressurize itself, and has a hankering for hunting humans. It also has specialized claws and teeth that are perfect for that job. Not to mention the creature is eerily quiet and fast on land,(specifically anything made of metal) and has the ability to open doors and set up complex traps. Anyways I found it funny. When it comes down to it the film is just dumb. The characters are poorly thought up, the creature is a joke,and the tired stuck at sea angle during a storm is nothing new. Most importantly the scares are nonexistent as the crew get reduced one by one. I can appreciate a low budget monster movie I just hated this one though.

It is hard to critique director Peter Atencio because budget restraints were clearly a huge factor. The lack of quality cameras, decent actors, and the design of the sea creature were not really his fault. He could have used better quality angles and had the characters make more reasonable decisions but it wouldn’t have helped the movie that much. I will reserve most of my criticism but he needs to work on properly trying to scare the audience through tension or gore.

I cannot recommend this film as it is 90 minutes of pure garbage.

T Factor + If you are really into low budget monster movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – None.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Relic, Deep Rising.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Shaun of the Dead


Shaun of the Dead
Comedy (Zombie, Horror)
2004
Rated: R
Running Time: 99 minutes
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy
Directed By: Edgar Wright
Rating: 9 out of 10
Outline
A reluctant leader takes charge and tries to lead a small group of people to safety during a zombie apocalypse.


Review
I hate calling a movie brilliant but this movie is F-ing brilliant. It created a genre affectionately known as Zom-Com and helped rocket zombies into mainstream conversations. I am sure one of my readers will credit some movie prior to this that invented Zom-Com, or mention George A. Romero in some way but ease up zombie nerds I am not that well versed. Shaun of the Dead is the story of a man named Shaun. He lives in England and it follows how he and small group of people try to survive a zombie apocalypse that has broken out on the island.

This film has hilarious dialogue, it has hilarious situations, it is hilarious in it’s subtly, it is just hilarious. The film opens up and we are introduced to the two key characters being Shaun and his best friend Ed. They may be adults but they are children at heart. Their relationship is what makes this film so funny. They play video games, drink obsessively, and generally just like to party to the detriment to their personal relationships. The film is a slow build up of a zombie apocalypse. Shaun thinks he sees a homeless guy eating a bird, there are troubling news updates of an epidemic, and there are even zombies stumbling along in the background. While all this is happening, Shaun and Ed go about their lives oblivious to the lurking horror. When the zombie outbreak finally hits its zenith, the film somehow gets even better. Shaun and Ed attack the zombie hordes with an amateurish fervor. They use a wide variety of household items to try and kill the zombie menace. Records, ashtrays, paper towel holders, and a cricket bat are all used to bash in zombie craniums. The film alternates from bloody sequences to laugh out loud scenarios for the entire film.

Shaun is played by Simon Pegg and Ed is played by Nick Frost. The two of them are genius together as man-children. You will either be able to really connect with their personalities or at the very least find them entertaining. They always are able to provide a laugh even though there are people dying all around them. They sing songs while zombies groan in the background, they drive like maniacs when slow and steady would work just as well, and they drink when they should have clear heads. They would die in the first two minutes of a real zombie apocalypse but in this you are pulling for them to survive.

Now the film probably would have been boring (not really) if it was just Shaun and Ed acting like idiots, so Shaun becomes a reluctant leader of a small group of people. He tries to save his parents and his on and off again girlfriend as he leads them across the city to safety. They face many hardships like tall fences and internal bickering, not to mention zombies at every turn. Will they survive? That is a question I hope you will get the answer to by watching this fantastic film. It has some gory scenes of blood and death but it is worth it (if that is not your cup of tea) for the jokes and an unlikely soundtrack that involves the band Queen.

Director Edgar Wright’s first feature film is a huge achievement. It has a tiny budget (4 million est.) but maximum payoff. The zombie’s makeup is good if not excellent and the seamless mix of humor and blood is perfect. The film never is slow and it just keeps getting better and better. Wright had a vision and delivered one of the best zombie movies ever. This truly is a great film and I watch it once every couple of years.

I give this movie a huge recommendation and not just to zombie lovers. All I can say is check this shit out.

T Factor + If you like zombie movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like zombie movies then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Zombieland, Juan of the Dead

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Exit Through the Gift Shop


Exit Through the Gift Shop
Documentary (Comedy)
2010
Rated: R
Running Time: 87 minutes
Directed By: Banksy
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Outline
A man’s obsession with street art sees him travelling the world capturing the most famous artists perfecting their craft.


Review
I have never reviewed a documentary before so I sat here a long time before starting to write. I decided to keep this short and simple and not to critique things that I usually do in my movie reviews. Exit Through the Gift Shop is the story of an amateur French filmmaker named Thierry. He travels the world capturing all the famous street artists on film. He is obsessed with the culture and the lifestyle and catches it all on videotape. His main goal is to meet the notoriously hard to find street artist named Banksy. He is so caught up in street art that he even attempts to become an artist himself. I hate graffiti but to call what these people do graffiti would be insulting to their craft. They are very much artists even if I don’t understand the phenomenon. This film is shockingly funny and was daringly interesting. I knew nothing of this lifestyle and I found myself compelled with all the little nuances of the trade. The footage is amazing as the viewer is taken into the very underworld of the industry. I might not get the appeal of the finished product but the process of arriving there is fascinating. This is a film that should appeal to most people even if it is not a topic you are familiar with. Truly this is an entertaining ride from start to finish.

I give this movie a recommendation especially to people looking for a topic that is a little different.

The Rite


The Rite
2011
Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 114 minutes
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Ciaran Hinds, Alice Braga, Rutger Hauer, Toby Jones
Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom
Rating: 3 out of 10
Outline
A reluctant priest heads to Italy to take an exorcism class.


Review
It is good to see Anthony Hopkins in a horror role again. The problem is this film had no real horror moments. It just had some cheap special effects and makeup that left this critic wondering why they even bothered at all. It is shocking to me that a film with Rite in the title could come off so wrong. The Rite is the story of Michael Kovak. He is studying to become a priest and travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.

An exorcism movie. What an original and refreshing change for a horror film nowadays…I must confess I actually liked this story as it started out. We are introduced to Michael Kovak as he transitions from a mortician into seminary school. It is a weird job change but it is explained and the movie gets under way. Michael is a man that doesn’t fully believe in religion and more importantly he doesn’t believe in exorcisms. I found I liked the reluctant priest angle and was interested in how they were going to develop it. So I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. The story went absolutely nowhere and seemed pointless by the end of the film. Michael teams up with an unorthodox priest by the name of Father Lucas Trevant. Together they treat potentially possessed people through a multitude of exorcism techniques. This is where the movie truly lost me. The exorcisms themselves lacked realism, suspense, fright, blood, and any other word you want to think of during normal exorcisms movies. Certainly the PG-13 rating hurt this angle of the movie but the scenes lacked everything that make exorcisms great. The poor quality sound coupled with cheesy looking makeup lost me from the first exorcism. I never felt the chair gripping fear of the spiritually unknown that makes this genre so cool. A scene with a possessed pregnant lady piqued my interest but quickly disappoints as it only teases the viewer with what could have been.

The acting is okay but the priest characters don’t have the usual strength of character to make this film work. Michael Kovak is played by Colin O’Donoghue and he just seems depressed in this movie. Granted his character is supposed to be sad but it comes across as he doesn’t really like the role. Father Trevant is played by Anthony Hopkins and even he can’t coax anything worthwhile from the story. It seems he is only in this film to add credibility to it and he delivers his lines without conviction. The two of them have a limited chemistry but it really didn’t matter as the story was the clear problem.

So as the movie rolls along Michael is forced to deal with some interesting situations that test his faith. He assists on a couple of exorcisms that see people twist in strange ways, spout foreign dialects they couldn’t possibly know, and bleed from different orifices. This film is a clichéd and seen before concoction of the exorcism genre. You will hate the characters, hate the relationships, hate the story, and hate the ending. The thing that is the most puzzling about this movie is that it is based on a true story. Unfortunately for us the story is garbage and not remotely interesting.

Director Mikael Hafstrom has an average resume (1408, Derailed) but just didn’t bring his A game for this one. The script allowed for plenty opportunity for scares and horror but he never delivered even once in that department. This film had a modest budget (est. 37 million) so really there was no excuse for the poorly shot exorcism scenes. Hafstrom never gains the viewers attention and there is no excuse for that.

I cannot recommend this movie as it will leave you with the right to remain bored.

T Factor + If you like exorcism movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like lots of blood and frights in your horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Devil Inside, The Last Exorcism.

John Carter


John Carter
Action (Sci-Fi, Aliens)
2012
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 132 minutes
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Dominic West, Thomas Haden Church, Ciaran Hinds, Bryan Cranston
Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Rating: 5 out of 10
Outline
A Civil War vet is accidentally transported to Mars. He must survive the planets hostile inhabitants and try and find a way back to Earth.


Review
So I heard the internet chatter of how bad this movie is and what a colossal bomb it was at the box office. While it did fail horribly at the box office it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Sure it has a multitude of problems which I will discuss in detail but I was entertained by this film if not enamored by it. It suffered the same fate as Waterworld and the Adventures of Pluto Nash….well mainly Waterworld. That fate is a bunch of people hating on the movie before they have even seen it. Waterworld and Adventures of Pluto Nash were not great movies but they were panned unfairly because they did not do well at the box office. I say stop being movie lemmings people and have an original thought once in a while. John Carter is the story of a Civil War vet who gets transported to Mars and finds himself in the middle of a battle for that planets domination. He must chose sides as he tries to figure out a way back to his home planet.

So I will start with what I liked about the film. I felt the story was nothing amazing but it was easy to follow and kept me entertained for the whole film. The alien races on Mars were well thought up and visually impressive. Especially a group of aliens called the Tharks. They were the coolest thing about this film. Their green skin, huge stature, four arms, and nomadic warrior lifestyle were perfect for the harsh conditions on Mars. They reminded me of General Grievous from Star Wars in a way (that is a good thing). The action while coming at sporadic intervals was enough to keep me sated. Futuristic flying ships and lasers are intertwined perfectly with medieval weapons such as spears and swords. I was also invested in John Carter’s struggle of surviving on this strange world and his attempt to make it back to Earth. So as you can see there are a lot of things to enjoy about this movie if you can keep an open mind. Also on a side note, I cannot fault them for trying to go for a film very akin to Star Wars. There are many amazing Sci-Fi stories out there that can share a place beside the holy trilogy.

The acting is average in this film but passable for the most part. John Carter is played by the will he ever get another lead role Taylor Kitsch. 2012 was supposed to be Kitsch’s big year as he starred in two other films (Battleship, Savages.) His films lost well in excess of a hundred million dollars so he will be treated like he has the plague for a long time. He isn’t bad in John Carter but he seems to be trying a little too hard at times. Couple that with the fact he looks like a young Stephen Dorff and excellence does not lean in his favor. He was okay in the role but needs to polish up his delivery in the future. His leading lady, the princess Dejah Thoris is played by Lynn Collins. She is okay but mostly forgettable as a warrior princess. She is beautiful though so she has the look of a princess and that is a good thing. The bad aliens are played by Mark Strong and Dominic West. I like Strong and West as actors but they are cast as these generic evil villains that are rather bland, so it is disappointing performance from them. The voices of the aliens are spot on. Familiar voices such as Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, and many others were well matched to their respective alien characters.

Now to the bad parts of the film and why it ultimately fell short. I am unfamiliar with the book written by Edward Rice Burroughs that this movie is based on so I am speaking purely from a movie standpoint. (as to not offend any Sci-Fi geeks out there.) First off the title of this film is terrible and possibly one of the worst ever. It obviously has no bearing on the movies quality but what were they thinking? The film clearly suffers from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace syndrome. It is trying to cater to way too many key audience demographics and it gets sloppy. Stupid things like dogs that can run hundreds of miles an hour, John Carter can leap huge distances (he should have been able to fly if they were going to go with this angle.), flying space skiffs, and many other strange things seem too childish for a film like this. The action also is rather tame and underwhelming at times for a film of such a high budget (Est. 250 million.) People need high impact when the story is so drawn out and it was never forthcoming. Lastly the story seems jumbled together. Themes of religion, old hatreds, and unexplained alien rituals all seem forced upon the viewer without much thought to the outcome. Because the film had such lack of focus it just didn’t seem right even though it was easy to watch.

Director Andrew Stanton undeniably knows how to shoot animated films (Finding Nemo, Wall E) and he should stick to that format. He is what made this film not succeed in my mind. It is clear he was trying to appeal to the masses. A style which animated films are known for and it was a glaring failure. John Carter bounced around this movie like a super ball and it got harder to watch as the movie went along. Suspect characters, cheesy love story, and underutilized generic bad guys. This film had no clear direction. Big budgets can make up for a lot of things but cannot cover up bad decisions. Stick to animated movies Mr. Stanton where you are at the top of your game.

I cannot recommend this film as it has way too many things going on to be enjoyed properly.

T Factor + If you like Sci-Fi then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like Taylor Kitsch as an actor this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Serenity, Stargate.